We all know IKEA’s Allen key. Your experience with the item may either be enjoyable or highly frustrating, but you’ve got to embrace the humour in this one: the famous, iconic ‘Allen Key’ is now turned into an LED table lamp. This, and other thoughtfully-designed items, is part of the latest IKEA Art Event collection.
See, the people at IKEA are firm believers in making art accessible — and affordable — hence, the collection’s sixth iteration, which explores art as functional, everyday objects. The limited-edition, 10-piece collection sees the Swedish furniture brand collaborating with five exciting contemporary artists such as Daniel Arsham, Sabine Marcelis and Japanese design collective Gelchop, for intriguing pieces that ought to pique your imagination. The collection will soon be available in Singapore, at IKEA stores and online, from 29 April.
Whether it’s a surreal-looking clock, quirky illustrated vase, minimalist wall lamp that doubles up as a sculptural art piece, or drones pinned like you would a butterfly collection, the goal here is simple — IKEA is democratising art. To them, art does not just solely belong in galleries or museums; that same magic, creativity, and humour, can be found in our homes as well, though everyday objects, home furnishings, and functional design. And yes, this means you can now touch the artwork.
“Each item in this collection has a practical function, and at the same time it is an art object. The traditional idea of art being high-end and design being part of mass culture simply is not relevant anymore. The two go fantastic together – that is where the magic happens”, says Henrik Most, Creative Leader for IKEA Art Event.
Take a look at all the items in the collection below.
ITEMS: LED Table Lamp Allen Key Shaped ; LED Torch Allen Key Shaped
This Japanese collective is skilled at deconstructing no-name everyday objects and turning them into intriguing art, pieces that encourage you to look at things from a different perspective. “We are always thinking of ways to use existing items and combining the concepts or phenomena of different things to change the meaning or application of the original item in a fun, playful way,” says Gelchop.
You can tell they had a whole lot of fun with this one. The iconic IKEA Allen Key is scaled up, now turned into either a table lamp or handheld torch, thus giving new meaning to a humble, perhaps mundane object. It’s no longer just a tool that assists us in building furniture — it’s art.
Widely celebrated, American artist Daniel Arsham’s work often spans across art, architecture, and performance, while he also shares that he’s always been interested in the subject of time — which explains his recent work on archaeological decay. “A lot of things I am using in my work or referencing are everyday objects — a very simple telephone, camera or clock; things that have a place already in daily life. When I can latch onto something that people already know and it’s shifted outside of the everyday that can be an interesting experience for them,” he says.
This time, he builds on the theme of time with a striking table clock / sculptural piece that’s seemingly wrapped by wall that has shifted due to a destructive force such as a storm or earthquake. As devastating as that sounds, the moment is frozen in time, which captures gentle motion and a quiet grace that you might feel when looking at the piece.
Item: LED Wall Lamp
As a “master of resin”, Netherlands-based designer Sabine Marcelis has always been fascinated with the effects that materials can create, and often works with resin or glass to see how they interact with light — all to spark a moment of wonder in the viewer. Of her wall lamp, she says: “This time, I wanted to challenge myself in a different way — using shape itself to shape light. There’s light reflecting on the wall, while a sharp cut on the front face allows a peek of light to pour out as well.”
This minimalist yet dynamic piece actually came about with her experimenting with paper, folding and cutting first before deciding on the simplest of her concepts. It also changes in both function and aesthetic when it’s switched on or off. “When the light is off, the object lives as its own on the wall,” she says. “But when the light is turned on, it gives away its ability to flood the light out. There’s a hidden moment that only you can see.” The design is available in two different sizes and can change five different colours, in order to create various moods in a space.
Items: Vase ; Throw
German artist and illustrator Stefan Marx draws inspiration from subcultures such as graffiti or techno, which then inform his lively, distinct style that plays on illustrations or typography. While he says he mostly draws on paper, he has recently shifted to working on surfaces or objects — he’s done everything from skateboards, to textiles, to porcelain. “I always have a pen and some kind of paper with me,” he says, since he often picks up on overheard conversations as well as lyrics or quotes in his work.
For his vase and throw, he does exactly that with phrases that will leave you wondering why they came about. An evocative “I’m so so so sorrryyyy” is scribbled onto a vase, while the throw features the line “I wait here for your forever as long as it takes”, words that the artist noticed on a graffitied wall in London.
Humans since 1982
Item: Wall Decoration
Humans since 1982 was established in 2009 by Bastian Bischoff and Per Emanuelsson, while the duo have a knack for raising questions on technology, or what they call “a tool for efficiency”, and the accompanying concepts of progression and destruction. They often do this by taking familiar objects out of their usual contexts, placing them into new environments.
With their pieces, you’ll notice how the aluminium display case resembles a butterfly collection you’d find at a natural history museum, only now it’s pinned with drones, a modern technology that’s usually associate with surveillance. This then raises the question of the future of drones, since present-day technology is now presented as a timeless artefact. “We designed the piece to be a conversation starter, to trigger ambivalent feelings. It’s great that it creates discussions and connects people,” they say.
The IKEA Art Event 2021 collection, available for purchase in IKEA Tampines and Alexandra stores from 29 April 2021 and online from 6 May onwards, while stocks last. Limited to 2 pieces per article per customer for in-store purchases. Find out more at IKEA.sg/artevent.
To further encourage the idea of art in the home, IKEA has also created an AR filter where the collection can be experienced and played around with from home. You may download the filter on IKEA’s Instagram page.